Frequently Asked Questions
Our Philosophy - No surprises - all your questions answered.
Below are the most frequently asked questions. If you have any questions that are not answered on our site, just drop us an email and we'll get right back to you!
Which is right for me - SimplySteno or SimplySteno PLUS ?
All our students use SimplySteno Plus now. We used to mail materials to students if they had poor Internet connections, but that's no longer the case (because connections have improved!).
Can you gear my program towards captioning or CART ?
It doesn't matter if you want to be a court reporter, captioner or CART provider, you have to write EXACTLY the same way - with speed and accuracy. Why would anyone teach anything other than that? Are the fine details of the actual jobs a little different? Sure. But that comes AFTER you get the skill on the steno machine, which is 99% of the training. The practice/program should be exactly the same no matter what steno path you plan to take. To say the training is any different seems silly to me.
Which court reporting theory do you teach?
SimplySteno does not teach court reporting theory. We are a speedbuilding program - we accept students using all different theories - StarTran Realtime Theory, Phoenix Theory, StenEd Theory, StenoMaster Theory. Speedbuilding is universal. If you have yet to learn theory, we suggest the StarTran Realtime Theory. It's a short, logical theory that teaches using the same platform created for SimplySteno - a great way to learn court reporting at home.
Can I stop the program at any time?
Yes. You are not locked into anything. We do not want you to continue in our program if you feel it's not working for you, or you've decided to move on. There is no automatic billing. You will not be refunded your last payment, however.
Do you have financial aid?
No. Taking on financial aid means changing the program to what others dictate, and I'm not willing to do that. I feel confident in our program and I wouldn't change it for anyone. We do, however, accept Bill Me Later through PayPal. That means you'll have up to 6 months to make your full payment, interest free.
What about the RPR prep ?
Our RPR Prep Program is worked right into SimplySteno - no extra fees! Once you reach RPR speeds, you'll move directly into the RPR portion of the program.
How is testing done?
Your test material is accessed online along with the rest of your lesson. You are on the honor system. You will be trusted to listen to the dictation tests only once and transcribe within the allotted amount of time. If you decide to sneak in some extra transcription time or preview a test, you're only hurting yourself.
How many tests do I need to pass in each speed?
You must pass 2 tests in each speed at 95.5% - a 2-voice and a 1-voice. The 1-voice can be literary or jury charge - it's given in a random order.
What kind of contact will I have with my instructors?
As much or as little as you like. We will contact you when we return tests or feel the need to point something out to you. And we would hope that you reach out to us when you have any questions or concerns. We are always an email away, or you can find me online using the "Chat With Marc" image on most pages.
What kind of contact will I have with other students in the program?
Again, as much or as little as you like. You can contact other students through our Facebook group.
Will the program cost me less if I reach my goal speed faster?
That's the spirit! Yes! You only pay for the program for as long as you're in it.
What speed will I be starting with?
Ideally, we'd like you to start 20 words behind the last successful speed you passed. If you passed all your 120 tests, we'd like you to start at 100. Our dictation material is a little denser than most, so we want to give you a little breathing room when you start. And if you pass a speed right away, you move right up, so no time is wasted.
What do you consider "finishing" the program? Do I graduate?
Our goal is to help you reach your desired writing speed. There's no graduation. Program success is only accomplished once we get you where you want to be.
How flexible are the daily schedules?
Daily schedules are basically on demand. An average day is 3.5 hours, and we'd prefer that you complete each one in a single sitting - 5 days a week. Focus, momentum and stamina are important aspects of the program. That said, we realize that every student can't sit for that long each day. So we understand that you can only do what you can do.
Can I start the program at any time?
You can start our program on any Monday, as soon as you've received all of your learning materials. No need to wait for the beginning of a new quarter or month - start now!
Once I reach 200, will I have to order one of your other programs?
No. Our popular RPR Prep program is built right into the SimplySteno program.
Will I get to see my schedules ahead of time?
Yes. You will have all your daily schedules a week in advance so you can see what you're in for.
Do you teach CAT software?
We have self-paced programs for Case CATalyst and Eclipse, with reference material for several others.
What kind of computer requirements do I need - Internet connection?
You need to be able to play mp3 files - which most computers, new and old, can do. You need some kind of text program - something like Microsoft Word or Word Perfect. OpenOffice is a free program you can use as well. If you are using SimplySteno Plus, you need an Internet connection - something reliable.
Can I add your program to my current program?
Adding the SimplySteno program to your existing court reporting school is a great option! Just be aware that you may get conflicting teaching styles from the 2 programs.
Can I take leaves from the program?
You are allowed to take leaves, but the payment schedule remains the same. If you take a leave and skip a payment, you will be required to make an initial payment once more to take part in the program.
Can I split up my daily schedule into several sittings?
We'd prefer you didn't. As we mentioned before, momentum is important to a good program. You need to find your groove. You can't do that if you're stopping and starting. That said, sometimes it can't be helped. So it's better to break it up than not do it at all.
Will your program qualify me for my state exam?
Our goal for you is to get to 225 and beyond. Most states have no exam to take. There are exceptions, of course (like California). Anyone can take the RPR exam if you're a member of the NCRA. And passing the RPR will qualify you to take most state CSR exams. You can check state requirements here.
Won't most agencies want me to have a degree?
Ask your local agencies that question and I'm sure you'll find out that most of them don't care how many degrees you have - or how long it took you to get to 225 words per minute.
Do you teach how to prepare transcripts?
We will teach you how to prepare a transcript for testing purposes, but not for work purposes. That's something you will learn in more detail through interning and on the job.
Can I sell, copy or give away any portion of the SimplySteno program?
No. The SimplySteno program is copyright protected and intended for the sole use of the purchaser. It is not transferable.
Can you just kick me out of the program?
If I feel strongly that you simply don't have the skill it takes to become a reporter, I do have the right to remove you from the program. I would hope you would want me to tell you if that was the case, rather than continuing to take your money. I also have the right to ask you to leave the SimplySteno program if I feel we do not have a compatible teacher/student relationship that will further your educational goals. If you were to be removed from the program by my decision, I would refund the prorated amount of your last payment.
Would I get a refund if I stopped at some point? Can I get material I had before I left?
Payments are not refundable. That's one of the reasons I've set up the payment plan as it is, so you don't have to pay thousands of dollars up front. But once a payment has been made, there are no refunds. Once you have left the SimplySteno program, it is up to you to retain any materials you may have received through the program - we cannot resend you material. That would include a computer issue that caused you to lose material. It is up to you to back up your computer for future use.
If I can't continue, or decide not to continue, can someone take my place if I have remaining time I've paid for?
Payments (schedules) are non-transferable. The SimplySteno program is intended for the sole use of the person making the payments.
Is your program recognized by the Department of Education?
No. SimplySteno is a business (under StenoLife), not a school.
Which steno theory is best? - SimplySteno does not teach theory - we leave that to schools. Theory is where you learn the language of stenography. SimplySteno helps you improve your writing skills once you know the basics. There are about a dozen theories to choose from, some with teaching support and some without. We've put together a basic page on Steno Theory. We suggest starting there on your search.
In 2014, StarTran Theory asked to use the platform we built for SimplySteno to teach their theory. While many theories are similar, often it's the way the theory is taught that makes the biggest difference. StarTran is taught in the same, structured manner as SimplySteno, with plenty of guidance and feedback from the theory creator, Marlene Struss.
How long will it take me to get to 225 words per minute? - Court reporting is a unique skill that requires both physical and mental ability. Physically, you need to move your fingers fast enough to write on a steno machine at speeds around 225 words per minute. To put that into context, the average conversation is around 160 words per minute. So your fingers need to move very fast. And the only way to create that speed is by creating muscle memory - repetitive motion hitting the correct keys.
Then there are the mental aspects of writing, allowing yourself start a difficult skill at the very bottom. When you were a child, you fell many times before you finally learned how to walk. You failed forward. Steno is very much the same process - you will fail forward many times before mastering the skill. It's not uncommon for a student to fail a speed test 20 times before passing it. So you'll be dealing with things like test anxiety, fear of failure, fear of success, etc.
Back to the original question - how long will it take? There's no concrete answer to that. Just as some children walk at 9 month, others don't take their first steps till 16 months or longer. Nationally, the average time to complete theory and reach speeds of 225 is between 3-4 years. There are students who have reached those levels in just 2 years...and others in 6. It's a wide range. It depends upon your dedication to the course, the amount of time you put in and your natural ability on the steno machine. At SimplySteno, we promise to provide you the tools to perform up to your highest ability.
Won't court reporters be replaced by some other technology? - We've been hearing this for over 30 years now! Yes, voice recognition is very good. But is it good enough to take down multiple speakers...at high speeds...with accents...at different volumes...if one sneezes...and read back the record? Nope. Only a court reporter can do that. And with the growing fields of captioning and CART, stenographers will have work for many years to come.
Do I have to follow the SimplySteno schedules exactly? - Only if you want to give yourself the best opportunity to reach your goal. That said, we do understand that every student does not have an ideal situation in which to follow our program exactly. So tweaks do need to be made from time to time. While it's a self-paced program, you will find that we push you to do your best and use your time wisely. But at the end of the day, you can only do what you can do.
Does SimplySteno provide interning options? - Students should be the ones calling agencies and setting up internships. Making students call helps with their communication skills and helps build a connection beyond school walls. On the whole, agencies are very open to the idea of students sitting in with their working reporters. They understand that it's good for the field and gives the student valuable experience. If you call 10 agencies, chances are that 2 will be willing to set something up for you. It's a numbers game. It depends on how busy the agency is, which reporters they have working at the time, who you spoke to that particular day and more. If an agency declines to allow you to sit in with a reporter, it's important to be professional - thank them for the consideration - and move on. Court reporting is a very small world. Chances are you will see that agency owner down the road at some point, so it's important to leave a good impression. SimplySteno can provide a list of agencies in your area.